The CEO and I just bought annuals for lining the front walk, as we do every year.  We’re partial to blue salvia, enormous marigolds, and zinnias.  But this time I also bought two heliotrope plants because their smell enchanted me.

I know that they’ve long been known as “cherry pie” plants, particularly in the UK.  And they do smell great: fruity, sweet, almost yeasty under their floral topnote.  In fact, they smell to me not so much like cherry pie as they do like jam-filled doughnuts. 

Seriously.   Not the jellylike pie filling/fruit-flavored goop you get at the grocery store, but real jam.  In real doughnuts.  Homemade ones. Yum.

I like heliotrope, but often find it a little… chalky? flat?… in fragrance.  It occurs to me just now that I don’t think I own any heliotrope-featuring fragrances at the moment.  I divested myself of L’Heure Bleue and Aimez-Moi, and even of my small bottle of Soivohle Lilacs & Heliotrope.  The only thing I still have that has noticeable heliotrope presence is a decant of pre-refo Apres l’Ondee.  I think I have a sample of Etro Heliotrope somewhere, too, but that one was flat, without the charm and sparkle of real heliotrope flowers.  I have an idea that I liked the heliotrope angle of Serge Lutens Datura Noir, and I still have that sample around somewhere too.  What have I missed?

Anybody else ever grow heliotrope?  (Please tell me they’re easy.)  And I’d love to hear whether heliotrope is a favorite note of yours or not.  If you love a heliotrope-centric fragrance, please share!


21 thoughts on “Heliotrope!”

  1. YOU HAVE MISSED LOTS!!! (Heliotrope is one of my favorite notes, 4eva and eva!)

    What We Do In Paris is Secret. Kenzo Amour Le Parfum. Profumum Dolce Acqua. Etat Libre d’Orange Bijou Romantique. I LOVE YOU HELIOTROPEEEEEEE

  2. Good timing, Mals. I’m in the midst of a major heliotrope sample right now. I must admit I’ve never smelled a real-live heliotrope, so I can’t tell how realistic the fragrances are that I’ve tried, but L.T. Piver’s Heliotrope Blanc does the cherries and almonds with a floral facet, so it avoids both maraschino cherry and Play-doh angles for me. Be warned though, even on my scent-glue skin it’s pretty ephemeral. (You can find samples and bottles of it at the Posh Peasant.)

    If you like full-on maraschino cherries, Ava Luxe’s Heliotrope is very nice and scads cheaper than Serge Lutens Rahat Loukoum, and her Angel Face adds a nice fluffy powdery note to that, if that kind of thing works for you.

    I’ve got some posts planned as I work my way through the note, so I won’t give everything away here. 😉

    1. Oh, you’re planning a post?? When it’s up, I’ll link to it.

      I did NOT like Rahat Loukoum, as a matter of fact. Bleargh (but it was not nearly as bad as Louve). I should have mentioned, I don’t much like the Play-doh accord. POTL Luctor et Emergo was just horrrrrible.

  3. I’m partial to Penhaligon’s “Cornubia” – a better-informed bod than me will be able to comment on how much heliotrope is in it, but Penhaligon’s site emphasises the vanilla and heliotrope content.

    1. I’ve only sampled a few Penhaligon’s scents (Bluebell I HATED, Malabah I liked, Amaranthine I really like, Violetta I love) and haven’t run across Cornubia… but if there’s more vanilla than powder, I’m probably on board with that.

  4. I am not a heliotrope fan. I don’t care for almond-y or powdery scents, and usually that is how it reads to me. I got a sample of Etro Heliotrope in a swap and almost gagged when I first opened it! But I had never thought of it as being a actual flower – I’ll have to see if they have it at the nursery. I’m very curious now to smell the real thing.

    1. It’s way pretty! No powdery elements in the flower. (I didn’t like the Etro much either – powdery and… well, “flat,” is the best I can do.)

  5. LOVE heliotrope, the smell and the color! Never tried growing the plants. I already own L’Heure Bleue and Aimez-Moi (YOUR Aimez-Moi, by the way, enjoying it hugely!). I did like Louve on first try, but all of Uncle Serge’s creations disappear from my skin in like 5 minutes. Eagerly reading the comments to learn of more heliotrope-heavy perfumes.

  6. So glad you’ve got heliotrope for your garden! It’s a long time fave of mine, and the heliotrope smell in perfumes has been a sad travesty for a while now. I liked the 90’s version of Chant d’Aromes, which had a heliotrope note in the heart which did sparkle, but this was before the Guerlains reformulated and put Chant in one of their cologne bee bottles. My best experience with heliotrope scents over all, was actually Molinard’s Heliotrope. You know, the Les Senteurs collection, dark blue bottles with faux-Victorian labels? They’re cheap on line these days, but I worry that since I bought mine c. 1991 they’ve cheapened the formula. Otherwise, and if you don’t mind super sweet, there’s KIss Me Tender, the PdN from last year. What a name though.

    1. Oh, I usually get on very well with PdNs, unless they lean masculine, which I don’t think Kiss Me Tender would. I blush to admit that I rather like the name… I’ll look out for the Molinard as well.

      I was horrified to hear what Guerlain has done to Apres l’Ondee, turning it into a perfectly nice iris scent and leaving out the melancholy heliotrope.

  7. I am very cautious around heliotrope, and mainly don’t care for it, but with notable exceptions, such as Apres L’Ondee, and one of the Reminiscences with fig and heliotrope – Do Re, that’s the one. I tolerate the note on a case-by-case basis, let’s just say!

    PS That doughnut looks yum! Worth The Calories in fact, which not all doughnuts are. I guess I also evaluate doughnuts on a cake-by-cake basis.

    1. That doughnut looks really delicious! Our local grocery store has an excellent deli and bakery, and their jam doughnuts are wonderful (also their fried chicken).

      I don’t automatically like perfumery heliotrope, due to the dreaded Play-Doh accord, but in certain compositions it’s wonderful.

  8. I love the heliotrope in Joop! Homme. It needs a very light application (just a misting), but it’s a terrific masculine scent. Haven’t encountered very many other fragrances that employ this note with the same panache.

    1. I can imagine that heliotrope might be tough for a masculine scent to encompass. (Or maybe I just haven’t tried enough masculines. Could be wrong.) I love the idea of heliotrope panache, though.

  9. They’ve been up to something quietly over there at Guerlain, quietly, as in when your kids get too quiet, and are getting the youngest to stick a fork in the electrical socket as an “experiment”, and suddenly the house goes eerily silent? That kind of quiet? And it’s been mischief sure enough for the perfume. Apres L’Ondee was changed. I had to give up and sell my bottle because after ten lovely minutes on my skin it turned into the Good’n’Plenty from Halifax and darned if I was going to wear that.

    1. OOOHHHHHHHH, been THERE with the quiet child. I mean, Bookworm is pretty much law-and-order on her own and Taz is pretty much chaos-and-anarchy, but chaos-and-anarchy is at least loud, and when Taz is up to something you know instantaneously. But I remember that we had just moved into our brand-new house many years ago, when Gaze, then about four, got suspiciously quiet upstairs. I found him drawing cars… REALLY BIG CARS, as far up as he could reach… in neon green and fuschia crayon on the hallway walls.

      Ugh. I mean, I like eating Good ‘n’ Plentys; I don’t want to wear them. I think someone commented on my review of Al’O that it was now merely a nice iris scent, and I’m not a big Iris Ho, I really only like it in the background. If you asked me my favorite iris scent, I’d probably say No. 19, if that clarifies.

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